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Get to grips with left-handed golf
Around the Academy:

Phil Mickelson and caddie James McKay
Phil Mickelson and his caddy celebrate another major
According to one golf writer, left-handed golfers used to be as rare as a double eagle.

But now like buses two have come along at once.

Phil Mickelson and Mike Weir have both won the US Masters, and now Mickelson has landed his second major triumph with victory at the USPGA.

So, why is left right? The Academy decided to find out.

Is it such a rare feat for a leftie to win at golf?

It certainly is!

Apart from Mickelson and the Canadian Weir, New Zealand's Bob Charles is the only other left-handed player to win a major championship.

But it's been 40 years since he emerged victorious in the 1963 British Open.

How many left-handers are there on the PGA tour?

Mike Weir is one of six left-handed players currently on tour.

The others are Phil Mickelson, Steve Flesch, Russ Cochran, Kevin Wentworth and Australian Greg Chalmers.

Left-handed lady golfers are still very rare though and there are none on the LPGA Tour.

So why aren't there more lefties?

Only around 10 per cent of golfers play from the left.

And many golfers who are naturally left-handed actually learn to play golf right-handed.

One example is Len Mattiace, who lost out to Weir at the Masters.

Others include Greg Norman and Curtis Strange.

Why do they switch to the right then?

Up until recently it was really difficult to get hold of left-handed golf gear, so players just tended to switch to the right.

Now clubs made specially for left-handed players are easier to come by.

Players would also switch because they felt playing right-handed was the "correct" way.

Which way to play?

According to golf coach Peter Johnson, the way you play golf depends more on your EYES than your hands.

Phil Mickelson
Lefties can win majors

US Masters winner Weir might play golf left-handed but he writes with his right hand.

Similarly, fellow lefty Flesch also eats and writes with his right hand.

And Mickelson does everything right-handed - except play golf!

"It all depends on the way you see the ball," said Johnson, club pro at the Vale of Glamorgan resort near Cardiff.

"When you stand facing the ball, which way do you visualise it leaving you?" he said.

"It's similar to the way a cricketer decides which way to stand at the wicket.

"It depends what feels most natural and comfortable for you," he added.

Are left-handed golfers at a disadvantage?

The biggest disadvantage is when it comes to equipment.

There has been an improvement lately but there is still less variety for lefties to choose from.

Left-handed Tour pro Steve Flesch admits companies can be slow off the mark bringing out left-handed versions of their new models.

Also, some people claim golf courses are set up to favour right-handers because of the way tees and holes are angled or the way trees and other obstacles are positioned.

And coaches sometimes say they find it tricky to teach left-handed players.

So how do lefties get to grips with it all then?

Russ Cochran denies he has a disadvantage as a left-handed player.

Indeed, some say lefties often find it easier to learn the game because they get a mirror image when they watch their instructor's technique.

And if you're a lefty like Mickelson, Weir or Flesch - chances are you'll have a great swing.

According to coach Peter Johnson: "Left-handers are classic swingers of the club. They appear to have a more smooth, graceful swing."

So now there's no reason to be left out, is there?

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For more information contact:
British Left Handed Golfer Society
7, Ingersley Road
Tel: 01625 575516

Famous lefties
Julius Caesar
Albert Einstein
Charlie Chaplin
John McEnroe
Martina Navratilova
Prince William
Bart Simpson

Did you know?
Mike Weir's native Canada has more left-handed golfers than any other country in the world!
Left handed people make up about 13 per cent of the world's population

:: Left-Tee
:: The World Association of Left-Handed Golfers

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